Hello Hudson, Goodbye Stephen
On Wednesday the 20th of September 2017, at approximately 11:00 am, my second son was born.
His name is Hudson.
As I held his tiny, fragile body in my hands I thought of what kind of impact he would have on the world.
I thought of Elon Musk, and rockets landing on Mars. I thought of Google, robotics and artificial intelligence. I thought of 3D holograms, virtual reality and cars that drive themselves. I thought of John Lasseter, Steven Spielberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, even Nelson Mandela, and many others.
I dreamed the dream for my son and the future was blinding. I was giddy with the potential contribution I was holding in my hands.
A little over a week later, on October 1st 2017, Stephen Paddock smashed out the windows of his Las Vegas hotel suite and opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers below, with machine guns, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500.
I was on the other side of the world when this happened and, even though I have no connection to anybody involved, the tragic events of that night have stayed with me since. Too often these days we find ourselves painfully having to re-evaluate the world we live in, and the age we shepherd our children into.
I don’t know why Stephen Paddock did what he did. So many questions remain unanswered. With all their resources, all the law enforcement agencies in the United States still can’t give us any answers.
What I do know is that many years ago, a mother or a father held a newborn Stephen Paddock in their hands, much the same way I did the day my son was born.
I wonder if they dreamed the dream for their son?
I wonder what happened along the way?
What makes a man’s destiny take such a harmful turn?
Many people believe the issue is about gun control.
I reckon thats simply a distraction that we busy ourselves with so as to avoid dealing with the real issue.
I believe the real issue is one of heart, specifically, our own.
I am of the opinion that Stephen Paddock simply let his heart go bad.
Whether or not he was a terrorist is secondary to his regard for those he considered opposite to his cause and his beliefs. I think he simply placed his cause, whatever it was, above his love and respect for his own humanity.
Whether you are kneeling for a cause or standing for an anthem, whether voting yes for new unions or no for ancient beliefs, whether black or white, east or west, gay or straight, understand that there is another side. Regardless of who ‘wins’, there will be people who are frightened and unsure. There will pain and there will be anxiety. There will be hope diminished. Remember that we can still have our beliefs, but we must do our best to put reason above zeal, common sense above cause, and love above hate. Anything that runs counter to this is a distraction and a trap.
To fight the Stephen Paddocks of the world we should use their own tactics against them, only we should use true love instead of machine guns. It might sound like an unrealistic ideal but nothing could be further from the truth. When I say true love I don’t mean ‘love’ in a rock-god-to-a-sea-of-fans kind of way. I don’t mean love via social media or word-swag images or flowery memes. I’m talking about cultivating love in our own hearts, quietly, generationally, over the course of our lives. And then having it burst forth spontaneously and unannounced, with world-changing consequences, leaving people healed, and wondering where it came from, surprised and full of hope.
Anything else will see us drown in our own hate and meet a fate not unlike Stephen Paddock.
To the survivors and the families of the slain of the Las Vegas massacre, and all the victims of countless, other senseless acts of violence (as I write this Manhattan is included again this morning) I say this: you have been dealt a terrible blow. Know that you are not alone. Millions across the world suffer with you. Do not lose hope. Pick up and carry on, as hard as that is. One day justice will be served, but until then be sure to keep your heart flesh not stone. For the greatest battle is not on the battlefield. It is in, and over, the hearts of all men and women in the world—this is the enemy’s true objective. Keep your eyes on the prize of love. This is way to victory.
My prayers for my son (both of them) have changed somewhat over the past month.
I still pray prosperity and success over them. I still dream that they will be content and that they will find careers that bring them meaning and purpose, but above all, my greatest prayer for them is simply this: that they will treat people well.
I pray, with all my heart, that they will bring something to the people of the world that will be positive, and hopeful, and good, and that they too, will be happy, alive, and well.